Tuesday, September 28, 2010

About Letter 267

Bill's transfer snafu is ironed out and he is back in Giessen after packing and being sent to Rodheim. With pessimism he notes that "with this strike situation the way it is in the States I guess nobody will be thinking much about the soldiers over here. Tonight he plans to see a show or "head out to the Red Cross for a cup of coffee."

Letter 267- January 6, 1946

January 6, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

God! What a week this last one has been. I really don’t know where to start this letter. First you’ll notice that I’m still in Giessen and that I haven’t been transferred. That’s not really quite the truth. I should say that I’m back in Giessen. I was all packed and down at Rodheim when they finally got my service record straightened out. I’m thankful that I wasn’t transferred but I do wish that I could get home before too very long. Today one of the Third Division guards came storming in here and said that General McNarny had said last night over the radio that all men with under fifty points would have to stay here until sometime after June. That seems impossible but I’ve heard nothing about it over the news broadcasts today so it may be just some wild rumor. I hope to God it is. Another six months overseas would mean two years over here. That would be terribly unfair when they’re not sending guys overseas who’ve had only 21 months service and all of that in the states. It wouldn’t surprise me any, however, since as Bouillion says that the one word the army doesn’t understand is fairness. If it does come about that way I’m going to write some pretty insulting letters to somebody. With this damn strike situation in the states the way it is I guess nobody will be thinking much about the soldiers over here and the army will be able to do just about what it damn well pleases. That’s what I’m afraid of.

After all this time I finally received a letter from you which was postmarked December 4th. I’m glad to hear that you finally received that package that I sent you in October. I was afraid that we’d seen the last of it. I also received a letter from Ben so I can at least say that I have some mail anyway. I miss getting mail from you like the very devil. The only two things that a soldier has to look forward to are chow and mail. Over here chow is never anything to get excited over so that leaves only mail. Without that life is pretty boring. This is another one of those dead Sundays that are even worse than work days because there is little or nothing to do except listen to the radio and write letters. Last night and this morning I was on CQ so that gave me a little to do but I can’t say that I was having a very good time.

Tonight I’ll probably go to the show or out to the Red Cross for a cup of coffee. Then I’ll probably come home and go to bed—another Sunday shot. Some life, huh?

It’s almost chow time now and I have to get cleaned up so I guess that I’ll close it for tonight.

Best Love,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

About Letter 266

Bill is steamed over an army snafu that may delay his return home. "It's one of the rawest deals I've ever had and I've had plenty in this damn army." He sarcastically signs off the letter saying "Long live Joe Stalin!"

Letter 266- January 2, 1946

January 2, 1946

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
Dear Mudder and Dad,

I hardly know how to start this letter. Today I received orders to be at the Labor Center tomorrow for transfer to an AAA outfit for shipment home and it’s one of the rawest deals I’ve ever had and I’ve had plenty in this damn army. Some damn fool has blundered with my records and rated me as having 57 points instead of 47 which I actually have. The Captain called this to their attention but they’ve done nothing to correct the error. In short I’ll be transferred and when they find out that I haven’t the right number of points I’ll get canned and will undoubtedly end up in some stinking hole as full time KP or something—all this when I’m only 5 days from having a rating for which I’ve slaved for 2 months now. My whole army career has a story of me getting the dirty end of the stick. I thought that it couldn’t happen again and I’ll be damned if it hasn’t. I feel mad, sick and hurt about the whole deal. This has been the only place I’ve ever been in the army where I was treated really decently and now I’m transferred just because some damn son of a bitch is too lazy to pay attention to what he’s doing. It just seems that if you do your best and try to do right you end up out of luck. The captain says that he’ll call up tomorrow and try to get something done about it but he admits that my chances are pretty slim. Actually this will hold up my getting home because LSC gets first priority always.

That’s really all I’ve got to say. I’m so sick about the whole thing that I can’t write a real letter. If anything breaks I’ll let you know.

Long live Joe Stalin!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

About Letter 265

It's New Year's Day 1946. Bill notes that "last year at this time I was actually fighting for my life against the German New Year offensive. I was cold, miserable and I might add desperate." He spends much of the day "chewing the rag" with Hans the German interpreter. "He's only 17 years old and quite intelligent. One can learn more about Nazi Germany from him in five minutes than from anyone else in ten years."

Letter 265- January 1, 1946

January 1, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The new year is here at last. I don’t know what will hold for us all but at least the outlook is pretty good. It’s quite different this year. Last year at this time I was actually fighting for my life against the German New year offensive. I was cold, miserable and I might add desperate although that word smacks of the dramatic. This year I’m warm and well fed, yet if anything I’m more homesick. I’m getting so tired of it all that I just don’t know what to say. I was reading in the Stars and Stripes yesterday that the morale of the troops in the Pacific is cracking because they’ve been fighting so long and are now being treated like pawns in a chess game. It’s really confusing to the average soldier when he hears that men in the states are being discharged in the belief that they are unessential and surplus, and yet at the same time men who have fought for years are told that they will have to stay. It’s just the same as saying, “Okay, you won the war; now to hell with you. They talk about stopping the draft and yet also talk about years and years of occupation. If that is so only we can make the occupation force. In other words some men must give everything to their country while others give nothing. I believe that I’m at least half way intelligent but I can’t understand this.

I still haven’t received any mail from you, but the sky does look a little brighter in as much as one of the boys in this company did get a letter the other day that was mailed to this address. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get something. I sure hope so. I’ve really lost touch with you. The last letter that I got was written in early November.

Last night I stayed up to welcome the New Year in. At twelve the GI’s started to shoot off everything they could lay their hands on and the Jerries threw old electric light globes out the window. One of the POW’s had a crying jag on and was determined to tell someone about all his troubles. Wot a life. I got to bed about 2:oo am this morning so I didn’t get much of a night’s sleep.

I don’t know what to do with myself today but you can bet on one thing and that is that it won’t amount to a hell of a lot. I spend about half my time chewing the rag with hans who is our interpreter here. He’s only 17 years old but he speaks good English and is quite intelligent. One can learn more about Nazi Germany from him in five minutes than you can from anyone else in ten years. That’s mainly because he tells the truth instead of giving you a song and dance. He’s interesting in as much as he is a product of Nazi teaching. Until he came here he hadn’t the slightest idea about so many things that we take for granted. He told me last night that only now does he realize that “the happy ending” was impossible under Nazism. He thinks that we should start some extensive educational plans over here. He says that the most fanatical young Nazi is better adapted to learning democracy than the old people who always say that they don’t want anything to do with politics.

That’s all for now.

Best love, Bill

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

About Letter 264

It is Sunday and the weather is lousy. "We've had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together....in short it's the time of year in which your's truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time." A new rookie is "outside pacing up and down his post in the rain. "He's new enough in the army to take his his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans." Bill awaits his promotion to Corporal, which will raise his pay to $88.00 a month.

Letter 264- December 30, 1945

December 30, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s been several days since I’ve written you a letter and with the storms at sea and so forth it’s hard to say just when you’ll be receiving any letters from me. As for me I haven’t received any mail yet so I’m requesting a telegram for you to send me. I haven’t had any mail in so long that I’m beginning to get a little worried. Nobody here has been getting any so I know that everything is probably all right but still I’d like to get some word from you.

It’s Sunday today and the weather is lousy. We’ve had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together. Everyone here says the weather is unusually mild for this time of year but nevertheless it’s pretty depressing. We’re in that crumby lull between Christmas and New Years right now in which we’re not doing anything really and yet we’re not really getting any free time. In short it’s the time of year in which yours truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time. The other day an order came down from higher headquarters for men eligible for shipment home and somehow my name was on it by mistake. Boy! Was I mad. I was so close and yet so far. The men with 45-49 points in the 15th Infantry of the 3rd Division have been alerted for the 20th of January so I’m holding my breath. As far as I know I’m still slated to leave on the 5th of February but it can be changed any time.

Our radio here is a godsend. I think that I’d practically go screwy if I didn’t have it to listen to. Right now I’m listening to some of the Sunday programs over ASN which takes my mind off the general pain in the neck that I have to think about all the time. About 20 feet from my window there’s a new rookie pacing up and down his post in the rain. He’s new enough in the army to take his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans. The rest of us are getting to that “I don’t give a damn” point which is no good for an army of occupation. At any rate I’m glad that its he instead of I out there walking a post. If there’s anything in the whole world I hate its guard duty.

I just heard the news and what they had to say about the redeployment set-up for the next few months didn’t sound any too good. I wish to heaven they’d come right out and tell us what the score is instead of hedging around and giving out a lot of figures that sound good but don’t mean a damn thing.

Well, my recommendation for Cpl. has gone in now and all I have to do is wait and see what the devil happens. If all goes well the okay will be back here within the next week or ten days. If it comes through all right I’ll be a lot better off when the time does come for me to go home. It’ll mean less K.P. and guard duty, not to mention the money that I’ll be getting. That’ll be about $88.00 a month while I stay here and about $76.00 when I get back to the states. That combat infantry pay does come in pretty handy.

I guess that’s about all for today so Happy New Year.

Best Love,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

About Letter 263

Bill is officially recommended for the rank of Corporal. "That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain't it grand???" More importantly it has been repeated that he will be leaving Germany "on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin' USA." Bill notes talk from home wondering if combat veterans can readjust to civilian life. "One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home."

Letter 263- December 23, 1945

December 23, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve hoped against hope that I would get some letters from you before Christmas but I guess I’m just out of luck. That’s why I haven’t written to you as often as I should lately. I keep hoping every day that the next day will bring some letters. At any rate they changed our APO yesterday and that may bring about some sort of change in the situation.
The APO is now 169. The Captain drove all the way down to Heidelberg the other day to see if he could find out anything but it was the same old story. As far as I know you may not even know that I’ve been transferred yet. It’s a sorry situation.

This week I was officially notified that I’ve been put in for the rank of Corporal. That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain’t it grand??? What’s more important, however, is that it’s been repeated that I would be leaving here on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin’ USA. I just hope to heaven that nothing at the last minute comes up and dashes everything to the ground. I note some Senators now saying that continuation of the draft is now unnecessary and other such crap. I tell you that if they stop it altogether it’ll mean just one thing and that is that fellows like me who’ve already served and fought will have to go right on serving with no hope of ever getting out for an indefinite period of time. That, while others who’ve never done anything for their country continue to get all the breaks. They keep hollering about all the men who are volunteering but they’ll never get enough to make any kind of an effective force that way.

The way some people talk you’d think that we were just a bunch of bums that everyone would rather have on that side of the world which is most distant from home. I hope that it’s not that way all over or it’s going to be pretty rough. During the war we were always so much more wonderful than we really were and now it seems that we’re a lot worse than we ever were. One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home. Pleasant, huh? That’s an extreme example of course, but I’ve heard other things that have hinted at the same thing.

I hear that so many veterans are going back to school that there are definite shortages of space, material and instructors at the colleges and universities in the whole US. Have there been any such signs at home? I’d like to get back to it as soon as possible and would hate to have to wait.

If I didn’t know better I’d think it was Infantry Day or something. Right now they’re playing the “Story of Roger Young” on the radio and it’s the third time that I’ve heard it today.

Well, it’s only 2 days until Christmas now and we’re having a four day holiday. Here that doesn’t mean much, however, since I will be working anyway. It’s better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

That’s all for tonight. I didn’t make it for Christmas but I should be home for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s too bad I’m not an Irisher. Oh well…….

Best Love,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

About Letter 262

Bill notes that Giessen is "almost a 100th. Division camp. He runs into Col. Zehner, his old Battalion commander who asks him "How in hell did you ever get into this hole?" He is hopeful of receiving a promotion to Corporal but "I'm not depending on it though." He sees the movie "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry".

Letter 262- December 15, 1945

December 15, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I really don’t feel like writing tonight but on the other hand I haven’t written in so long that I’ll feel like a heel if I don’t write. The entire situation boils down to the fact that I’m not getting any mail. Some of the boys haven’t had any mail in 9 weeks now and that is pretty bad. The Captain has written letters to practically everybody in the ETO trying to get a lead on the stuff but as of yet we’ve had no results. I guess that somewhere they don’t even know that there is a 1297 LSC. I really haven’t the slightest idea what’s going on but I do know one thing and that is that I don’t like it.

There’s one bright spot in this letter, however, and that is that to date I’ve received three packages from you. The only reason that I got them is that they were mailed to my old address in the 100th.

Talking about the old outfit reminds me. This town of Giessen is almost a 100th Div. camp. It seems that everybody who has shipped out of the outfit has sooner or later come to this hole in the wall. The other day I bumped into my old battalion commander, Col. Zehner. The first thing he said to me was “How in the hell did you ever get into this hole?” I guess we all have the same opinion regardless of our rank.

I went to the movies again tonight and saw “Uncle Harry” which was nothing exceptional. I thought that the cast was good but as usual Hollywood did things to the damn plot that made a mess out of it. About my only entertainment around here is the blooming movies so I wish they’d get something I could enjoy. Right now I am listening to the “New World Symphony” on the radio. Now that we have a radio here it’s a little less boring.

Here’s something that I hesitate to tell you………………….I’m still hesitating. No, on second thought I won’t tell you. I’m a cad, what? I will tell you about something that’s a little more certain, however; and that is that I’ve been put in for a rating. The captain has been hinting around about it for a week now and today he made it clear that I would go in for it. I’m not depending on it though. I’ve had too much experience with Bronze Stars and things. Anyway keep your fingers crossed and I may be T/5 or Cpl. Taylor one of these days. Not that it makes a helluva lot of difference. After having been in combat stripes don’t mean a damn thing among a group of men. Other people, however, believe that a person must not be much of a man unless he has his honor and courage stuck somewhere on the outside where it shows.

Well, here it is almost Christmas---nuff sed.

The replacements are pouring in but as yet we haven’t received any. Today I was driving along and picked up a couple of G.I.’s. As always my first question was “Well, when are you boys going home?” One of them says, “Christ, we only just got here. How many days have you been over here?” That stopped me cold. I mumbled something about as long as I can remember and went back to my driving.

That’s about all for tonight. I sure hope to get some mail before long so I can have something to write about.

Best Love,

Friday, September 3, 2010

About Letter 261

It's Tuesday night and Bill is on CQ again. He is his typical opinionated self. The weather is "lousy as usual". The Company Captain is a cousin of General Eisenhower "and he never lets a person forget it either." Yesterday Bill had to drive to Mannheim "just to have five minutes of work done on a sewing machine...wonderful, ain't it?" Today marks his 800th. day in the army.

Letter 261- December 11, 1945

December 11, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, it’s Tuesday night and I’m on CQ again. It seems that this is beginning to get to be a bad habit. One is supposed to be either a Cpl. or a Sgt. to pull CQ so I think that I’m getting the dirty end of the stick. Anyway here I sit in this dreary office looking at the posters on the wall which proclaim the Army Enlistment Program and other such repulsive things. I know that I should have a better reason to write you a letter than having nothing else to do but I’m afraid that’s the situation. I haven’t received any mail from you to this address as I suspected I would by now. I think there’s something phoney here in regards to that. None of the fellows in our group have been getting any mail at all for a damn longest time now. This Captain we have here always claims to be the top thing when it comes to efficiency, but I notice that he hasn’t done a damn thing about the mail. Oh well! He’ll be leaving pretty soon and the lieutenant that’s here to take his place is a pretty good guy. I get along good with the Captain as far as that goes but I don’t believe he’s got a helluva lot behind that eagle on his cap. He’s a cousin of General Eisenhower and he never lets a person forget it either. I think that everything would be fine if I only had the authority to tell him to get down off his high horse. He loves to start an argument with somebody and then when the other fellow puts him in his place he says “Don’t forget you’re talking to an officer.” He’s just another of these rear echelon commandos who cannot tell the difference between the armed civilian troops and the toy soldiers of the peace time army.

Well, now that I’ve vented my spleen on him I go on with the letter. The weather as usual is lousy. It snows all the time and it’s too cold to do much of anything. Boy, will I be glad to get back to good old Southern California. Some people may think that snow and ice are the berries but give me the good warm sunshine any time of the week. Probably it will be raining when you get this, but I’ll even take the rain in preference to this. I’m not doing a great deal these days. I drive maybe fifty or sixty miles a day as a rule but it never amounts to much. In between times I type out a few letters and that’s about all. This is all so useless though that I feel that it’s all a waste of time. You know anything to keep us in until they can get another war started with somebody. I honestly am beginning to believe that. I think that there definitely are some elements of the armed forces that are very unhappy over the pending reductions in rank and authority who would even be willing to plunge us into another war just to maintain their own personal power.

Had to drive over to Mannheim yesterday just to have five minutes work done on a sewing machine. Wonderful, ain’t it? The truck only burned up thirty-five gallons of gas going over there. Just another example of the way things are done.

All I’m hoping for now is that they put the two year plan for discharge into effect before I grow too old for the service. I don’t see why not now. There are many going home now who haven’t got as much service as I but who’ve been more fortunate on the battle star situation. Forty-seven points still doesn’t look too good but 26 months service does. Maybe I ought to start my letters like the Army Hour, you know, “On this my 800th day of service in the Army of the United States--.” By the way this is either my 799th day of agony or the 800th day of misery. I can’t quite figure it out.

Really that’s about all I can say. I haven’t seen any of those replacements that we’re supposed to get yet. I sure hope some of them come and replace me pretty soon.

Best Love,